Studies of solar radiation and its measurement

  • Punna S. Athwall

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A mathematical model has been developed for predicting the spectral distribution of solar radiation incident on a horizontal surface. The solar spectrum in the wavelength range 0.29 to 4.0 micrometers has been divided in 144 intervals. Two variables in the model are the atmospheric water vapour content and atmospheric turbidity. After allowing for absorption and scattering in the atmosphere, the spectral intensity of direct and diffuse components of
radiation are computed. When the predicted radiation levels are compared with the measured values for the total radiation and the values with glass filters RG715, RG630 and OG530, a close agreement (± 5%) has been achieved under clear sky conditions.
A solar radiation measuring facility, close to the centre of Birmingham, has been set up utilising a microcomputer based data logging system. A suite of computer programs in the BASIC programming language has been developed and extensively tested for solar radiation data, logging, analysis and plotting.
Two commonly used instruments, the Eppley PSP pyranometer and the Kipp and Zonen CM5 pyranometer, have been compared under different experimental conditions.
Three models for computing the inclined plane irradiation, using total and diffuse radiation on a horizontal surface, have been tested for Birmingham. The anisotropic-alI-sky model, proposed by Klucher, provides a good agreement between the measured and the predicted radiation levels. Measurements of solar spectral distribution, using glass filters, are also reported for a number of inclines facing South.
Date of AwardSept 1982
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorW.E.J. Neal (Supervisor)


  • solarimetry
  • spectral distribution
  • mathematical modelling
  • direct and diffuse solar radiation
  • solar radiation on inclined surfaces

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